Garland Smay
"Possum"
13 Years Old

May 22, 1969 to April 9, 1983

I would like to introduce you to Garland Alan Smay, our son. To so many people he was and still is so important. He is my first-born, his daddy's buddy, his sister's brother and hero. He was a friend, a cousin, a grandson, but most of all he was a Christian! Garland was 13 years old when he was murdered. Garland was a tease, an athlete, he loved to wrestle and play football. He was a boy scout, active in his church youth group, an acolyte at church, he sang in the church junior choir, as well as the junior high choir at school. In fact he was planning to sing a solo for the spring concert at school. He was going to sing "The Rose" as a tribute to me, his mother. His fellow choir members have told me every time they hear "The Rose" they think of Garland.

His friends called him "The Awesome Possum." Garland was born with a condition called "ectodermal dxsplesia", his hair was very fine and blond. Hence the nickname "Awesome Possum." He wore dentures from the time he was 5 years old. He had no sweat glands. He was a fighter, a winner. His condition was discovered when he was 2 and 1/2 months old. He developed meningitis and had to be taken to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. It was there the doctors discovered his condition. I have often thought how he fought all these health problems and then to be murdered. Why? Garland was a very fast runner. One time we were at a football game and the kids said "we don't know if even Possum can score this time, but if anybody can, he will," and he did. Everybody loved him who knew him. He was a great brother. Always ready to spend time with his sisters. Oh sure, they squabbled at times but they always loved each other. He was their big brother, their hero. They were his little sisters. Garland's favorite foods were pizza and French fries. His birthday menu was always the same: pizza and French fries, birthday cake and ice cream. He had a dog named "Lucky", but about 2 months after Garland was killed, Lucky disappeared and we never did find him. His favorite toy was a stuffed "Garfield" which he would sit beside him when we were playing games and he would consult Garfield as to what move he should make. Garland was a ventriloquist. He also had a dummy and he planned on using his dummy to teach little kids at church about Jesus. His Grandmother said that she always felt someday he would have been a great evangelist. Regardless of what might have been, we are so thankful for the thirteen years we had with Garland, but how we miss and love him and always will!

CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE MURDER

Garland Alan Smay was murdered (hanged) when he went to our barn to do his evening chores. He was killed April 9, 1983. Garland was thirteen years old.

The undertakers' wife said "I smell a rat here, his hands cannot be unclenched and there are bruises on his face and hands." He was hung from a single tree in our barn where we butchered animals. The rope was behind him! Some members of our family were involved in drugs, Garland hated drugs, and he told me he was going to find where they were coming from. Unknown to us, drugs were being dealt from our barn. We believe there were top officials involved in drug traffic in this area. The coroner tried to say it was suicide, but he got so much static from neighbors, friends, and family members he changed it to accidental. To this day, sixteen years later, it is still unsolved nor turned over to the PA State Police. His belongings on his body have never been turned over either! The death certificate states, "Cause: Asphyxiation, ligature strangulation due to hanging. How injury occurred: undetermined but no foul play." Both the coroner and policeman have been long gone. Before being coroner he was a bartender!

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Garland Smay